Kansas State Wildcats

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after throwing a 68-yard touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Alabama opens as Bovada’s early 2017 title favorite

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Alabama may have seen their dynasty temporarily derailed Monday night in Florida, but at least one wagering establishment expects Nick Saban to get it back on track post-haste.

Bovada.lv released its opening set of 2017 national championship odds very early Tuesday afternoon, with the bookmaker installing Bama as a 4/1 favorite coming off the loss to Clemson.  Last year at this time, coming off their fourth title in seven years, the same book had the Crimson Tide as a 7/1 favorite.

The team ‘Bama beat, Clemson, is at 16/1, tied with ACC Atlantic rival Louisville and behind six other teams besides the one they beat on the field last night — Florida State (7/1), Ohio State (15/2), Michigan (9/1), Oklahoma (9/1), USC (9/1) and LSU (12/1).  The other 2016 playoff team, Washington, is at 40/1, the same as 4-8 Notre Dame and behind the likes of Texas (28/1) and Miami (33/1).

Boise State, at 75/1, was the highest favorite amongst Group of Five programs.

Below are the complete list of 2018 title odds for the championship following the 2017 season, again courtesy on Bovada.lv:

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A Look Ahead: CFT’s Way-Too-Early 2017 Top 25

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the USC Trojans passes the ball against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The last bit of confetti has barely settled onto the Raymond James Stadium turf and the carcass of the 2016 season isn’t even cold yet, and we’re already rolling out a way-too-early Top 25 for the 2017 season? Yep. Because that’s how we roll. Or something.

In our role as preseason Nostradumbass, the first 10 of CFT’s Top 25 consisted of No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Clemson, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Notre Dame (ouch), No. 7 Washington (yeah us!), No. 8 TCU, No. 9 Michigan State (whoops) and No. 10 Tennessee. A little over 4½ months later?

Three of the four playoff participants were in our Top 10; the fourth, Ohio State, was just outside at No. 11. While not No. 1, Oklahoma came into the postseason ranked seventh in the College Football Playoff Top 25, and will likely move up thanks to the 16-point Sugar Bowl win over No. 14 Auburn (not in our preseason Top 25). Florida State (No. 11), LSU (No. 20) and Tennessee (No. 21) were all ranked at least eight spots lower when the postseason began, but all three won their respective bowl games.

On the flip side, TCU, at 6-6, earned a bowl bid… and subsequently lost to finish under .500. And then there was Notre Dame and Michigan State, which combined to win a total of seven games so let’s just forget about that and move on.

The point of this whole review-before-we-look-ahead exercise? Preseason polls are meaningless — but not nearly as meaningless as polls produced nearly eight months ahead of the start of a new season. With that in mind, enjoy this way-to-early Top 25 that will put the “mean” in meaningless. And the “less” in it, for that matter.

Oh, and as always, feel free to complain/whine/moan/bitch away in the comments section below.

NO. 1 USC
WHY? As a redshirt freshman, Sam Darnold emerged as one of the most electrifying playmakers at the quarterback position in college football, and should, to the chagrin of opponents, get even better with a full offseason as the man at the position.  Winning nine straight to close out the season doesn’t hurt either.
WHY NOT? There’s always at least one team that’s way overhyped — hello 2016 Notre Dame — and the hoopla and attention proves to be too much for the young Trojans to bear.

NO. 2 ALABAMA
WHY? Nick Saban + top-ranked recruiting classes year-in, year-out + a burning desire to be the greatest there ever was at this level = a permanent spot inside the Top 10 as long as The Nicktator resides in Tuscaloosa.
WHY NOT? An NFL team (finally) entices Saban to go back and finish what he started — and abruptly ended — in the big boy league of football.  It’s not going to happen, of course, but that’s about the only thing that could derail the Crimson Tide juggernaut — well, that and a Tiger named Deshaun.

Clemson v Florida StateNO. 3 FLORIDA STATE
WHY? The Seminoles are once again loaded with top-flight talent on both sides of the ball and at every positional unit, with Deondre Francois showing flashes in his first season as the starter of being one of the best young quarterbacks in the sport.
WHY NOT? They face Alabama on a (ahem) neutral field to open the season, then travel to Gainesville to face Florida in the regular-season finale.  In between, there’s a trip to Death Valley for their annual ACC Atlantic grudge match with Clemson.

NO. 4 OKLAHOMA
WHY? With Baker Mayfield returning, and the rest of the conference still trying to play catch-up, the Sooners are clearly the cream of the Big 12 crop.
WHY NOT? The twin backfield loses of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine can’t be overcome and Mayfield has to shoulder too much of the offensive burden. Plus, the road trips to Ohio State, Baylor and Oklahoma State for Bedlam.

NO. 5 WASHINGTON
WHY? They have a talented arm in quarterback Jake Browning, a very staunch defense and a schedule that’s very favorable, with the toughest road game being the trip to Stanford.
WHY NOT? They are losing a significant amount of talent that helped get them to the College Football Playoffs.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v ClemsonNO. 6 OHIO STATE
WHY? Given the personnel losses after the 2015 season, 2016 was thought to be a rebuilding year but turned into another playoff appearance.  The target was always the 2017 season for this young Buckeyes team, and a squad loaded with this much talent will be a factor throughout.
WHY NOT? J.T Barrett continues to regress as a quarterback despite Urban Meyer shaking up the top of his offensive coaching staff, and none of the other young quarterbacks are quite ready for prime time.

NO. 7 CLEMSON
WHY? Despite losing a couple of pieces, Brent Venables‘ defense will once again be one of the best in the nation.  The Tigers won 10 or more games in each of the three seasons prior to Deshaun Watson‘s arrival, so it’s far from a one-man show that Dabo Swinney has built.
WHY NOT? Losing Watson, a three-year starter at quarterback, proves to be too much as his replacement simply can’t handle the burden.

NO. 8 MICHIGAN
WHY? For all of his well-publicized off-field antics, Jim Harbaugh is simply one of the best head coaches in the sport and will settle for nothing less than getting his beloved Wolverines back into the national title discussion on an annual basis.  Wilton Speight was a breakout star in 2016 and should flourish despite the loss of his quarterbacks coach, while Don Brown continues to be one of the best defensive minds in the game.
WHY NOT? Too much talent was lost to the NFL, and Harbaugh simply hasn’t gotten the requisite time to completely restock the cupboard in Ann Arbor to compete with the Ohio States of the college football world.

Oklahoma State v BaylorNO. 9 OKLAHOMA STATE
WHY? One of the best quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the country, Mason Rudolph and James Washington, eschewed an early shot at the NFL and returned for one more season in Stillwater.
WHY NOT? A defense that was 53rd in scoring as it was loses nearly half its starters, plus OSU will have to play at Pittsburgh, Texas and West Virginia.

NO. 10 PENN STATE
WHY? They return a bunch of talent from their Big Ten-winning squad, including Heisman contenders in quarterback Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley, and get Michigan, Nebraska and Pittsburgh in Happy Valley.
WHY NOT? They lost a very talented wide receiver in Chris Godwin and have to play at Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State.

NO. 11 STANFORD
NO. 12 AUBURN
NO. 13 TEXAS
NO. 14 LSU
NO. 15 WISCONSIN
NO. 16 LOUISVILLE
NO. 17 GEORGIA
NO. 18 WEST VIRGINIA
NO. 19 SOUTH FLORIDA
NO. 20 FLORIDA
NO. 21 KANSAS STATE
NO. 22 COLORADO
NO. 23 WASHINGTON STATE
NO. 24 SAN DIEGO STATE
NO. 25 OREGON

Kansas State holds on for Texas Bowl victory over Texas A&M

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 28:  Dominique Heath #4 of the Kansas State Wildcats breaks the tackle attempts of Tyrel Dodson #25 of the Texas A&M Aggies and Larry Pryor #11 for a 52 yard touchdown  run during the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl on December 28, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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Texas A&M and Kansas State played some classics when the two programs were in the Big 12. Even though they entered this year’s Texas Bowl in different leagues, they apparently didn’t mind adding another wild one to series history on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats used several big plays and a few timely defensive stops to survive a late surge by the Aggies and held on to win in vintage Bill Snyder fashion 33-28 down in Houston.

Quarterback Jesse Ertz turned in one of his best performances of the year with his arm in throwing for 195 yards, including one beautiful touchdown pass to speedster Byron Pringle. The signal-caller also wasn’t too shabby in terms of running the ball either with 67 yards on the ground and a pair of scores to finish just behind Justin Silmon (77 yards on 10 carries) for the game.

Texas A&M struck first in the bowl by marching 75 yards on the opening drive to make things look easy. It turned out that was just an aberration as points and yards were hard to come by after that thanks to a stingy KSU defense. Quarterback Trevor Knight finished with 310 yards, a score and an interception to nearly rally the Aggies to a fourth quarter comeback but had his pass fall just short on fourth down to end the late threat.

Wideout Josh Reynolds had a program bowl record 12 catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns to pace the passing game for A&M, which also included some ridiculous catches from Christian Kirk and Ricky Seals-Jones as well. In the end it wasn’t enough though, and completes another disappointing late-season slide under coach Kevin Sumlin once again after going as high as No. 4 in the initial College Football Playoff standings earlier in the year.

On the flip side, the victory by Kansas State caps an impressive season in the Little Apple thanks to  Snyder and company. The program nearly ran the table against the old SWC and beat five different teams from the state of Texas in 2016 to once again hit the nine win plateau in another remarkable campaign by the Wildcats.

Big plays power Kansas State to halftime lead over Texas A&M in Texas Bowl

MANHATTAN, KS - NOVEMBER 05:  Head coach Bill Snyder of the Kansas State Wildcats walks along the sidelines during the game against the Baylor Bears at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on November 5, 2015 in Manhattan, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Big plays on both sides highlighted a fun first half in the Texas Bowl between old Big 12 rivals Kansas State and Texas A&M as the Wildcats took a 23-14 lead into halftime.

Keith Ford punched it into the end zone from seven yards out to kick off scoring for the Aggies after a 75-yard scoring drive to open the game. While things may have looked easy for Kevin Sumlin’s crew after that kind of impressive start, things would be anything but following that drive as quarterback Trevor Knight was under pressure most of the night. A pair of remarkable catches by Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones midway through the second quarter would give A&M another score and a brief lead but that was otherwise it for a sputtering offense.

Kansas State would not back down when trailing however, thanks mostly to the improved passing of signal-caller Jesse Ertz. He tossed a perfect strike into the arms of Byron Pringle in the closing seconds of the first quarter for a 79 yard touchdown and scored using his legs to cap off a 55 yard drive not long after. Dominique Heath also got into the scoring action by taking a jet sweep 52 yards around the edge to the end zone to extend KSU’s margin on the scoreboard.

Everybody wondered which team would come into this game motivated to win it and it’s pretty clear that Bill Snyder’s squad checks off that box after one half of play. The Aggies are plenty capable of mounting a huge comeback given some of the weapons they have on offense and may have regained a little momentum heading into the locker room after a nice fourth down stand at the end of the half.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 28 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

MORGANTOWN, WV - DECEMBER 03: The West Virginia Mountaineer mascot interacts with fans in the final moments of the West Virginia Mountaineers 24-21 win over the Baylor Bears at Mountaineer Field on December 3, 2016 in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 28 bowl menu, which today features the first three ranked teams that hail from Power Five conferences.  In fact, all eight of today’s participants hail from the power leagues — and all five of those conferences are represented — as we head into the meat of this year’s bowl buffet.

WHO: No. 23 Pittsburgh (8-4) vs. Northwestern (6-6)
WHAT: The 7th New Era Pinstripe Bowl
WHEN: 2:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
THE LINE: Northwestern, +5
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: No. 16 West Virginia (10-2) vs. Miami (8-4)
WHAT: The 27th Russell Athletic Bowl
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
THE LINE: West Virginia, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Indiana (6-6) vs. No. 19 Utah (8-4)
WHAT
: The 15th Foster Farms Bowl
WHEN
: 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX
WHERE
: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
THE LINE
: Indiana, +7
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Texas A&M (8-4) vs. Kansas State (8-4)
WHAT: The 11th AdvoCare V1oo Texas Bowl
WHEN: 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
THE LINE: Kansas State +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.